Basics go wrong for Cambridge in Old Albanian defeat
Errors prove costly for Cambridge
Do the basics well and the rest looks after itself.
It is a message that is drummed into players in all sports all day long, but one that deserted Cambridge in their 36-34 defeat to Old Albanian at Volac Park on Saturday.
Shoulder high tackles and a similar height for passes saw them make hard work for themselves against a well-drilled OAs.
With those glitches in their game, it led to a chaotic nature to the match where the points just kept coming, and both sides were guilty of giving away soft scores.
You can massage and interpret the two-point winning margin in many ways, but the overriding feeling is that OAs were worthy of their win – they just tried their hardest to throw it away at the end.
And for the way that they finished the game, Cambridge will take great heart as they never gave up and kept knocking on the door of the visitors’ 22.
But a 15-minute period when James Shanahan and Billy Johnson were in the sin-bin for OAs in the second half was the turning point, as no matter how hard Cambridge pushed on the door, they could not get through.
They were proving a menace at the line-out, with a succession of four driving mauls earning penalties, but that extra bit of composure required to get over the line was missing.
Cambridge were hindered by another big performance from Harry Bate, who looks capable of making the step up to the Championship, with the OAs’ No 6 excelling at the breakdown.
He was aided in the nitty gritty by Johnson, Ross Hamilton and Sam Lunnon, with the OAs pack just having the edge on the hosts.
But there were plenty of positives for Cambridge, with Tom Nutley catching the eye and David Langley making an impact when he came on, while Cameron Ruddock and Keifer Laxton put in big shifts.
There was also a strong ball-carrying display from Matt Hema, with the awareness of where he was on the pitch and who was around him standing out.
It is just the errors that proved costly for Cambridge, and while that is concerning in some respects, they are easy to iron out.
It is more concerning if there are technical flaws, but there was certainly nothing major in that regards.
Cambridge: Leathem; Hema, Petrides, J Ayrton, M Ayrton; Green, Liebenberg; Reeves, Ruddock, Coutts, Schoeman, Bretag-Norris, Nutley, Laxton, Meek.
Replacements: Coutts (Langley, 31), Trotter (Liebenberg, 49), Lewis (Green, 53), McCloud (Meek, 53), Naqasima (Reeves, 67), Meek (Schoeman, 70).
Old Albanian: Foster; Speirs, Lombaard, May, Elliott; Shanahan, Daly; King, Miles, Doman-Cann, Hamilton, Johnson, Bate, Stevens, Lunnon.
Replacements: Briggs (Doman-Cann, 43), Gliksten (Daly, 57), Palmer (Elliott, 61), Doman-Cann (King, 64), Taylor (Miles, 70).
Sin bin: Shanahan (technical offence) 47, Johnson (technical offence) 51, Speirs (technical offence) 63.
Cambridge 34: J Ayrton try, Green con 13min; Reeves try 22; Ruddock try, Green con 33; Green pen 40; Hema try 74; M Ayrton try, Lewis con 80.
Old Albanian 36: Bate try, May con 5; May pen 12; Elliott try, May con 16; Johnson try, May con 28; Bate try 36, May con 36; King try 60.
Referee: James Sullivan.